The Vancouver Canucks have made it official, announcing that Bruce Boudreau will return as head coach for the 2022-23 season. While that doesn’t come with a long-term commitment, it will at least put some of the chatter to rest about who will be behind the bench. In a statement, general manager Patrick Allvin explained the decision:
We are pleased to see Bruce’s commitment to return to the Canucks next season. He has done a great job since arriving in Vancouver and we are eager to see the team continue to perform under his leadership as they did during the second half of the season.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Boudreau is back, especially given the reports that he was in the meeting with prized Russian free agent Andrei Kuzmenko recently. The question was is about whether the Canucks will be willing to commit past the 2022-23 season, something that is still very unclear. In his end-of-year availability, president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford explained that he needed to see more than half a season before handing out an extension like that, something that at least made some wonder if Boudreau would take his talents elsewhere.
For now, he will stay put and build off that half-season, which was exceptional even if the Canucks didn’t end up qualifying for the playoffs.
After starting 8-15-2 under Travis Green, the organization decided to clean house, firing almost the entire management group and coaching staff. Boudreau took over behind the bench, while Allvin and Rutherford moved into the front office to start cleaning up the mess left behind by Jim Benning. The team had only made the playoffs once in the last six years and yet had some of the most exciting young talent in the league. Under Boudreau, they went 32-15-10 down the stretch, coming oh-so-close to climbing all the way back into the playoff picture.
That trio of Quinn Hughes, Thatcher Demko, and Elias Pettersson will obviously be the building blocks for the Canucks moving forward, though there are plenty of other decisions to be made about who will surround them. Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and J.T. Miller have all heard their names bandied about in trade speculation, and now with the Boudreau situation finalized, the front office can get to work on either extending them, or making a move to maximize their return.
A regular season turnaround wasn’t anything new for Boudreau, who has never had a losing season as an NHL head coach. In fact, his .635 winning percentage is right up with the best of all time. It’s the playoffs that have been a different story so far, likely one of the reasons why Rutherford was so hesitant to jump in after 57 games. Boudreau has a 43-47 record in the postseason and hasn’t moved past the first round since 2015.